"Critical thinking should centre not on answering questions but on questioning answers."
(Livingstone, The Changing Nature and Uses of Media Literacy)

If we apply the above statement by Dr. Livingstone to that of the growing media use of children, then the question we should be asking is not "Why are children using so much media," but rather, "Why is so much media using children?". Perhaps that question doesn't make sense to you. Think about it for a minute. With so many media outlets, children have become virtually surrounded - pun intended - by screens. But the question that needs to be asked is, do children really have a choice?
Media has taken advantage of our children, using them more and more as technological advancements are made. In return, America has become lazier, and obesity is becoming more evident with the increase in population. SmartBoards have been put into classrooms in every grade level from 1-12. What happened to chalk and erasers? Now it is just some text and a delete-button that teach our children to write and do math. How's that work? Should schools just throw away pencils and paper? Well on second thought, not the paper -- the kids will need that for the printers.
I remember elementary school with smelly blackboards and broken chalk, static P.A. systems, two Macintosh computers with black and green screens, and one heavy TV on a rolling stand with a VCR that was shared among all the classrooms. That was it for media-use when I was in first grade. We had recess too! I'm not even sure if they still do that. And when it rained, boardgames were brought out for us to play with. Kids nowadays have laptops in class. You can forget about Candyland and its Gum Drop Mountain; the young students have the spacebar and arrow-keys to play all sorts of online games.
I remember media when it was special to me, not when it consumed everything I do as it does now. It's like one of those MasterCard commercials: Working in a cubical in front of a computer researching and sending emails ($EYE STRAIN); Taking an online course to learn future software ($BLURRED VISION); Typing in front of a computer because every class tells us we have to anyway ($GOING BLIND AT YOUNG AGE); Finding five minutes away from a screen ($.PRICELESS).
I recall that special media memory as almost a ritualistic thing. Any time I was too sick to go to school, I would go to my grandparents' house up the street. My mom would drop me off on her way to work so that they could take care of me. Every time I went there, I would walk straight through the living room, into the ktichen where my grandparents were finishing up their breakfast, and turn right to go down the four steps that led to their family room. Then I would wait. My grandfather would always join me and take his seat on the recliner. After passing the time with an hour or so of watching Nickelodeon cartoons, the time had finally arrived. Eleven o'clock weekday mornings on CBS meant The Price Is Right was on. The joy of being sick! My grandfather and I watched intently as we bet on prices.
lil'craig: "Idiot. She's wrong; its not $1250. I say $900. What do you think?"
Gramps: "Uh...$901" (starts to chuckle)
I was always excited to see see the big white, black and gold wheel with its two green spaces and red 100. I always wanted to spin it. It looked like so much fun.
At 11:30, when the second showcase would start, my grandmother would make me and my grandfather grilled cheeses. My grandfather always put French's yellow mustard on the top of his sandwich. So I ate mine with the yellow mustard on top too. I never knew for what reason he did this, nor do I know why I too still eat it that way today. It's just become habit, I guess. But as we both sat there with our grilled cheeses with mustard on top, we enjoyed that moment television brought us. After Bob Barker announced the final retail price of the showcase showdown and we knew the winner, we shut the TV off and both took naps.
I don't know what makes media so special. Something about it can keep a child's eyes glued for hours. When I was younger I didn't have a cell phone to play with or a computer to play on but I did watch TV. I'm sure I watched hours of TV at a time too when I was young. However, seeing how much the media is involved in every bit of life now is scary and depressing. With the amount of things that can be done, or need to be done, via the Internet, we have sheltered ourselves from the outside world and sat ourselves in the front row of a screen. Maybe The Price Is Right was so special to me because of its rarity. Although the show has been on every weekday for the last 40 years or so, it was only available to me when I was sick at home. So again I announce, we shouldn't question why children stare at screens all day. We need to ask why there is a need for so much media availability.